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Pm says more needed to protect Barbadians from rising fuel costs

by Randy Bennett
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For the second time in under six months, Government has put a cap on gas and diesel at the pump, bringing a much-needed ease from skyrocketing petroleum prices, at least for the next five months.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley on Monday evening announced that from Friday until January 31, 2023, Barbadians would pay no more than $4.48 per litre for gas or $4.03 per litre for diesel, regardless of the price of oil on the international market.

The welcomed news means the current gas price of $4.83 per litre, which ranks as the third highest in the world, would be lowered by 35 cents, while diesel which retails at $4.28 per litre would be reduced by 25 cents.

During a press conference at Ilaro Court, Mottley conceded that the previous cap on Value Added Tax (VAT) on fuel had not worked as well as intended, and admitted that more needed to be done to help protect Barbadians from rising fuel costs.

“In March, when I addressed the country through the Budget speech I indicated then that we would look again at the issue of the capping of the Value Added Tax which we linked to the question of a price of crude oil at US$80 per barrel and we said that we would look at those arrangements within the six-month period.

“Of course we are at five months now and…we are satisfied that we are going to have to keep that cap in place. That cap, for example, had made the difference of 26 cents, I believe, on diesel so that if that cap was not there the diesel price would be 26 cents per litre more and I believe it is 22 cents with respect to gasoline,” Mottley pointed out.

“The truth, however, is that that cap there of itself is not necessarily proving to be enough and while things are difficult even for the Government we feel that we have an obligation to shield Barbadians more.”

The Prime Minister said the decision was made following a meeting with the public service vehicle (PSV) associations, Deputy Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw who is responsible for the Ministry of Transport and Works, as well as Senior Minister Kerrie Symmonds, who is responsible for the Ministry of Energy.

However, while communications, information and marketing officer of the Alliance Owners of Public Transport (AOPT) Mark Haynes told Barbados TODAY he welcomed the news, he said he did not believe the cap was enough.

He said the price of diesel was still too high and called for more attention to be paid to the sector.

“Well, we were hoping for better but we are thankful for what the Prime Minister has come up with to date. We hope that as we move forward that we can have a much better situation,” Haynes said.

“We provide an awesome service, but we do not enjoy a coping subsidy, unlike the Transport Board, and the sector is deserving of a coping subsidy. I am not overly happy with the gas prices, I think that they are still high even with the cap but I thank the Prime Minister for having decided to cap it off until January. We hope that when January comes that we can get a better result…. We cannot continue in this vein unabated.”

Speaking to the costs of food and essential items, the Prime Minister said while there was a basket of goods for which supermarkets and retailers had agreed on price reductions, it was impossible to “bring down everything”.

Mottley said Government would continue to monitor and adjust the 45 items in that basket of goods as necessary.

randybennett@barbadostoday.bb

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